Recycled sewage-water proposal gains steam 

Treated sewage water could be used on golf courses, cemeteries and public parks in the coming years under a series of plans being pursued by San Francisco officials.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission voted Tuesday to move forward with preliminary plans to build a sewage recycling plant in conjunction with South San Francisco and the California Water Service Company.

The recycled water would be used at California Golf Club, Orange Park and Linear Park in South San Francisco as well as some San Mateo cemeteries, according to the proposal. That would free up water for drinking and other uses from the Westside Basin Aquifer, which lies under Daly City, San Bruno and South San Francisco, according to city documents.

Under the agreement, San Francisco would put as much as $58,000 toward engineering studies for the proposed new plant, with the understanding that South San Francisco and California Water each contribute the same amount.

SFPUC commissioners also voted Tuesday to try to reach an agreement to use treated Daly City sewage water at Harding Park Golf Course.

A sewage recycling plant is already planned for western San Francisco to provide irrigation for such parks as Lincoln Park and Golden Gate Park by 2013, according to Ellen Levin, the commission’s director of water resources. Levin said The City also has plans in Pacifica to pump recycled water to irrigate San Francisco-owned Sharp Park Golf Course by 2010.

Technology that will be used in the proposed new recycling plants hasn’t been decided yet, according to Levin, but UC Berkeley environmental engineering professor Kara Nelson said most tertiary treatment plants, as they’re called, use chemicals or ultraviolet lights to kill germs, and that they use filters to remove tiny particles from the water.

"There shouldn’t be any safety concerns as long as the project is well designed and implemented," Nelson said. "California has the strictest regulations with regards to reusing water."

California recycles about 10 percent of its water and is a world leader in water reuse, according to Nelson, who described water recycling as "the way of the future."

"There’s two options that we have to increase the efficiency with which we use our water," Nelson said. "One is to conserve water —so, use less of it to begin with. The second option is to use it more than once."

jupton@examiner.com

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